It has been a busy summer here at EarthClaims! in June, three EC auditors had the opportunity to broaden their scope of higher animal welfare and to network with other professionals within the animal agriculture industry. Karen, Malissa, and Sarah attended Animal Welfare Officer / Poultry Officer Training, which was taught by professionals from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom and hosted by Penn State Extension.
This two-day workshop focused on research-based animal welfare and behavior topics related to slaughter and processing and demonstrated how proper animal care leads directly to high quality meats for poultry and livestock. The training taught humane handling of poultry and meat animals from feed withdrawal through catching/loading and transport and processing.
Each EarthClaims participant earned AWO (Animal Welfare Officer) or PWO (Poultry Welfare Officer) certification for their respective tract. These accreditations are acknowledged and valued by retailers worldwide and add a strong credential for those who undergo the training. Karen specifically enjoyed learning about livestock behaviors during loading. “Cattle have really poor depth perception, so changes in light (for example, going from a sunny chute to a dark trailer), as well as alley grates and 90 degree turns, will cease the flow of movement. Gaining this understanding of cattle behavior has aided me during inspections of working facilities on ranches.” Malissa spoke highly of the poultry training and took away some key points as well. “I thought it was extremely interesting that minimizing human interactions with chickens is actually one of the best practices for promoting animal welfare. One might assume humans physically handling the birds rather than equipment and machines would be a more ideal method of poultry catching but this has proven not to be the case.”
Professional development is an important part of our auditor training and continuing education here at EarthClaims. We strive to take advantage of every opportunity possible that educates our staff with new findings with in the industry and allows them to create and establish strong relationships with other agricultural professionals. We are looking forward to sending more team members to upcoming workshops and seminars in 2019, and we hope to see you at future meetings!